Bad Ass Happy Birthday To Me

With her tattoos, piercings and short crop haircut, she didn’t look like the other moms at the JCC pool.  Over the course of that first summer, we repeatedly found ourselves standing together, water up to our waists, as my two- and her three boys circled around us in the water; each one of them, at any given moment, needing to be reminded to stop splashing or stop jumping or stop staying under the water too long or stop swimming toward the deep end or leave your brother alone.  At first we just exchanged glances of empathy at just how exhausting (these particular) kids were, but soon we were pinch hitting for one another in watching, disciplining and allowing the other to have a quick break, even if only to use the ladies’ room.  It wasn’t long before we were actual friends.

As our friendship developed I was 100% certain that Beth was the coolest person I had ever known.  A self described “big ol’ lesbo” she was unflappable in the face of kids being kids.  Her story gaga-ed me:  three sons, all of whom she had birthed, being raised by her and two coupled gay men, all living together in one (totally cool) house.  There was not a single question I posed to her that she wasn’t willing to answer…and I asked plenty.  (Shut up, like you don’t want to know the mechanics of her getting pregnant!)

That was the summer that my 5 year old son had fashioned a mermaid tail out of shirts or towels or Lord knows what, and was elated to be traversing the pool, tail attached, enjoying a happiness that often eluded him.  He freakin’ loved that tail.  The lifeguards and other parents, however, felt differently.  Before I knew it, this benign mermaid tale was an official issue which, as I am sure you can imagine, I was not going to cave to.  Despite it not being her battle, Beth was right there alongside me voicing her ardent displeasure that a (supposedly) family friendly place was trying like hell to thwart a kid being  a kid because it made them uncomfortable.  It was then that I determined that, not only was Beth the coolest person I know, but she was now my idol.  I credit her with teaching me how to vehemently advocate for my kid without appearing all together rabid or unglued.  And, not for nothing; we won that battle.

When she isn’t in the pool with the kids (or cooking, or Soul Cycling or mentoring or getting a new tattoo or saving someone from themselves or being a kick ass mom or cracking me up) Beth is a therapist.  She works for this organization protecting, embracing and celebrating people who are, by big world definition, “on the fringe”, yet, by compassionate human being standards,  no less worthy of love, support, joy and acceptance than anyone else.  Right?!

Last year, as her birthday was approaching, Beth was acutely aware of the many blessing in her life and knew that she neither wanted nor needed any gifts.  So, in her never-ending marvelousness, she went on social media and requested that anyone who was able or inclined to, please purchase gift cards to be distributed to her client base, most of who find every day a struggle.  In keeping with it being her 51st birthday, she set a goal of receiving and then distributing 51 cards. Because she is so badass, she was sent, wait for it… 120 cards!  Seriously, how much of da bomb can one person be?!?


Fast forward to this week when our (what’s the opposite of esteemed?) POTUS flexed his “muscles” and proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is decidedly not everybody’s President by rescinding President Obama’s rule to protect transgender students’ bathroom use.  Aside from the strong and reasonable arguments that no one checks for penises or vaginas in the stalls of bathrooms, that this is no more about bathrooms than it was about water fountains and, really, who cares who is peeing next to you, his placing his signature (more on that here, just the first of 21,000,000 results when Googled) on the executive orders changed everything.

Under the best of circumstances, transgender kids do not have it easy.  They face ridicule and prejudice and hate and danger every single day.  They have an inordinately high rate of suicide. Many have parents and families who find the transition so intolerable that they throw their child, part of them, out of their homes.  It ain’t good, folks.

As I way lying in bed the other night, having chatted a bit with Jess about how this will change her world – she is fortunate to live in a state and town that is very accepting of her – I noted that she felt angry but not afraid.  With a healthy embrace of the arrogance of youth, any true fears she has about going to the bathroom in public are minor and, given where we live,  easily remedied, but not so for many others around the country.  And that really pisses me off.

What does this all have to do with Beth you ask?  Fair question.

My birthday is about a month away.  I need nothing.  I want nothing.  I am fortunate that I’ve got the people, love and things that I need and I have them every hour of every day.  Too damn many trans kids do not.  So, I texted Beth and asked her, “if I were to collect gift cards for transgender kids who are on the street or in trouble or struggling…could you get them in the right hands?”  Her immediate response:



I love you.


So now I ask you, dear reader: Can you help me reach my goal of collecting 104 cards (that’s 52×2) for these kids who only want to live authentically, freely and, most important, safely?

Getting the cards to me:  Please send me a note in the comments section and I will give you my address.

Note: I still need to ensure that my child and my family are safe because, as crushing as it is to admit, there are so many assholes out there who have nothing better to do than to worry about what is between someone else’s legs and what they are doing with it.  (Ewwww).  That being said, if there are more than a few people that I do not know who want to participate, I will look into securing a PO box somewhere which, I realize, would be a good problem to have.

Stay strong mamas and papas.  Love your kids, no matter if they sit or stand, love the same or opposite sex or scare you with their bravery.  We’ve got this.

Oh, and Beth; I love you, too!

92 thoughts on “Bad Ass Happy Birthday To Me

  1. I have a transgender 7 year old, bullied out of school by grownups when she transitioned at 5. She is safe and warm and home schooled and loved. We don’t have much, but I would love to send a gift card for a trans kid, and I love that you are doing this for them.

  2. Would love to support your effort. We worked together at Babson years ago. Let me know how best to get a card to you. Any special store more helpful than others?

  3. I would love to participate in this. Julie, I am Allison Nack’s sister and have been reading your blog for a long time now. I will be marching in Chicago tomorrow at the Stand Up for Transgender Rights and i have been calling my senators to encourage them to attend as well. I welcome the opportunity to support in any way I can.

  4. I don’t know you but I know Beth and I love your story of how you became friends – completely perfectly Beth……I love what you are doing and I’m going to give a gift card to Beth to add to your collection.

  5. Opposite of esteemed is jerkface.

    I’d love to participate – I was sent to your blog a while back by Laurie L, if it makes you more comfortable sharing your address with me. You and I have similar daughters. 🙂

  6. I would love to participate. I worked with Beth at AIDS Action Comm in Boston back in the glory days of the late 90s! I love this idea and agree that Beth most certainly rocks! So do you, clearly.

  7. Count me in !!!! Can I give it directly to Beth or do you want me to mail it to you??? Btw beth is awesome ! And so are you !!!

  8. What an amazing way to celebrate your birthday. I can’t even believe how quickly we are backsliding. Happy to support your very, very thoughtful cause, and happiest of birthdays to you!

  9. Yes! I absolutely want to help give you the happiest of birthdays with gift cards. I am so lucky to teach at a large public high school in San Jose, Ca that accepts and supports at least a 3 or 4 students who are struggling with their own sexual identity each year. AND I have a transgender nephew who has had his own shit to deal with so I have loved your honest and open blog all these years. I love the idea of supporting these kids in such a simple and caring way. I am going to adopt this idea for my own 62nd birthday coming up in April. So thanks for the idea.

  10. Hi Julie-it’s Harriet stich & I would like to send u a gift card. I love your blog, and your passion, acceptance and understanding is a beautiful thing. I could actually give your brother a gift card since I see him at the gym! Would that be ok?

  11. Hi Julie. You don’t know me but we have a mutual friend (WW) who introduced me to your blog a few years ago when one of my own children came out as trans. I’m happy to get it to you through her if that’s easiest, you can look me up on fb to see the mutual friend or I’m happy to meet you in Wellesley and introduce myself and wish you a happy birthday in person. Lmk what’s best for you.

  12. Julie- This is the best idea for a birthday present ever! I am so in-just let me know which gift cards would be the best. I just want to get every trans kid out there and tell them that they are loved. Thank you for helping all of us to show our support for the trans community .Love, Pat

  13. Hi Julie, I got linked to your blog a few years ago through a childhood friend (LSH) who I believe went to college with you. Anyway, you are an awesome mother and I really enjoy your blog! Your passion and openness are awesome and your complete and dedicated support for Jess is so inspiring. I can only imagine how difficult it has been at times for both of you but you always seem to have a great attitude. I would love to send you a gift card to help a young trans person in need!

  14. Julie, I’m a new reader. I don’t quite know how I got to your page, but I’m so glad I did! I so admire you and your ability to walk up to people and talk to them, as well as your accepting and roll-with-it parenting! I live in the same town you do, I grew up here (though I left for about 15 years before returning 8 years ago), and you probably know more people than I do! 🙂 My oldest graduated in 2016 and was active in the HS’s GSA, it was very important to her. I’m so glad that the school is still welcoming! I would love to add to the gift certificate pile, and if you don’t want to give a random person your address I could put it under a specific rock at a beach. 😉 I don’t know if my email is right in my WordPress acct. It’s my username at gmail.

  15. I’d love to help. I’ve been friends with Adrienne L since our days at Calvert’s. Please let me know what card you want and I’ll drop it in the mail today.

  16. What a great idea! I’m in. If you’re wondering, I know of you through Susan S, who’s son was at the JCC with Jess. Also, I got to interact briefly with Jess when I took her class picture in 6th gr. ! Please let me know the type of gift card that would do the most good! THANK YOU (and Beth!) for the chance to do something meaningful for trans kids in need.

  17. Hi Julie, Count me in. This is such a great idea. Is there are store or type of store that’s better? Let me know. I’m happy and excited to help.

  18. Hi Julie- would be honored to send you a gift card if you can please send me your address. Is there a specific gift card that would be best?
    Thank you for all you do!!!

  19. Love how actively you advocate for those you love and what you believe in. ..count me in. Ill connect via fb. Do we ever get to meet Beth? 😉 You don’t intend to keep all that coolness to yourself, do you?

  20. Julie I would love to help. I work at a public high school with many amazing, resilient LBGTQ students who deserve equal access and full support. Please send me your address! What a wonderful selfless birthday gift!

  21. I want to contribute. You don’t know me but feel free to FB stalk me before deciding if I’m safe or not!

  22. I haven’t seen your sister-in-law Ellie since high school, but I always thought she was super cool and super smart, and she thinks you’re super cool and smart — so through the transitive property, I’m happy to help! Plus, I have a transgender nephew. Happy birthday!

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